Monday, December 12, 2011

The Trip Here

The trip here was SO exhausting! And LONG. Though I suppose it is all worth it....I really hate how long the flight is! Anyway, we started off in Belo Horizonte (actually we started off on the drive there...but I'm skipping the death highway stories).
Saying Goodbye...never easy to do.

I took a plane from BH to Rio. I never expected the plane to ACTUALLY be a Rio plane! Take a look!!
From the movie Rio! Cute right??

Flying above the rain...I think it's so interesting that under all those clouds is a rainy, ugly day. A good thing for me to remeber when I'm having a rainy day!!

When I arrived in Rio it was sooooo weird!! Everyone was speaking in English. The Gringoes were in full force! It made me laugh a little bit! Anyway, while waiting in the airport, I had the good fortune of meeting a great couple named Bob and Alice! How I met them was interesting. I was sitting, playing Sudoku, dying of the sheer boredom of waiting, when Bob came and sat across from me. Being the curious people watcher that I am, I watched him take off his shoes and try to change his socks into circulation socks for the impending airplane ride. I watched him struggle for a good two minutes, while I internally struggled with going over to help him or not. I mean who is going to let a weird girl they don't know put on their socks? Well Bob apparently! I worked up quite a sweat helping him put those things on, but it was worth it! Bob and Alice are a really interesting couple! They have been travelling the world and had just finished a really interesting trip that I believe started in Spain and ended in Brazil! They spent the day in Rio, tromping all over Sugarloaf in torrential downpours before ending their journey with me in the Rio airport! There was another guy sitting close to us named Bruno. Of course after watching the weird girl put on Bob's socks, he wanted in on the conversation too. So the next hour or so we spent getting to know one another and it was a lot of fun! Here we are before boarding:
Of course when I boarded the plane, guess who I was sitting beside?? BOB! I know, right?!? We were destined to be friends! Thank you Bob and Alice for making my journey a little sweeter! I had a great time!!

I arrived in Charlotte the next morning, spent my time making phone calls to everyone to let them know I landed safely!
While waiting a few minutes to board my plane to Richmond, I saw my luggage!! In reality I saw only 1 suitcase! Which of course I was like ummmm, hello! Where is the other one. On this tiny plane, we went out to the tarmac, so I stopped the girl who was loading baggage and told her they were missing one! And she was like oh, yeah! I know, what's your name? We lost it! Which I thought ironic since I had just re-checked both of them an hour ago. I thought if they were going to be lost it would be in Brazil where chaos reigns supreme. See what you get for judging a book?

Anyway I landed safely in Richmond. Met another Brazilian who was going as an exchange program, talked to him until my feet hit the floor in the airport and took off to find my Momma! I spotted her and took off running! It was so wonderful to hug her...makes me cry even thinking about it. And of course she cried and then we laughed and spent the rest of the day happily ever after :) You know where she made me all my favorite foods! Starting of course, with Biscuits and Gravy. YUM.

Stay tuned! More adventures to come!

My beautiful Momma, her baby Molly, and Christmas lights!!

PS- It's cold here. I knew that. I just forgot what cold meant. My fingers have yet to warm up! :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I'm a lucky girl!


There is something about Halloween oreos… I don’t know what it is, but they are my absolute favorite!!

Amelia’s Mom recently sent her a box for her birthday. And inside I got a treat too!! Smile

Leanna, thank you so much for thinking of me! It absolutely made my day!! I was so surprised and so tickled! They of course were immediately devoured. Seriously, in two days, GONE. (in my defense, I had a little bit of help. But just a little! Smile haha)

Good snacks, even better friends. Life is good and I feel so blessed! Thank you so much!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


My beautiful girl is gone. Those words echo inside my head, inside my heart. They can't have meaning. They can't be true. Every single bone, muscle, everything aches.


On my birthday 8.8.2011 (4 years old)

Thursday morning, I woke up like normal. Said goodbye to Sidnei and went to go let Gracie outside to go to the bathroom, eat, play with her, brush her hair before work etc. This is our normal routine every morning. The difference that morning is that when I went inside to get ready, I heard Gracie crying in agony about 10 minutes later. Gracie had found rat poison that had been set out by my mother in law (she found a mouse the night before) and she ate it... I never saw it. It was on the ground on the veranda and I never saw it....It was the most terrifying thing for me. We mixed milk and oil, gave it to gracie and she threw everything up. Thankfully my brother in law was home, lives right up the street, and he rushed us to the vet. The vet was able to give Gracie medicine, she stayed for observation, and survived. I couldnt believe she survived, I thought surely she would die. The next couple of days were spent taking care of her, giving her medicine, trying to coax her to eat, to drink etc. She seemed to be getting better, getting stronger. Fast forward to Monday...I gave her all her medicine in the morning, fed her, etc. I came home for lunch, she met me at the door (i was so happy because she had been laying down and not wanting to get up a lot) and followed me around while I was home. My mother in law told me, she was up and following her around in the afternoon too. However, by the time I got home from work, Gracie was sick. It happened really fast, in less than an hour, she started breathing very labored, and quickly. She was making a noise like she was in pain. We called the vet to  meet us at her clinic. By the time she arrived, Gracie had stopped breathing. She got her breathing again and The vet said her lungs were filled with fluid. She decided to take Gracie to her hospital in the next town over. They made it and tried to do everything they could to save her, but the damage was too much. It was too much for her heart. They said she suffered pulmonary cardiac arrest. She passed away early Tuesday morning. We thought she was going to be okay, but the venom she at was just too strong for her little body. It did too much damage to her organs.

We are so very very heartbroken. I dont even know the right words to say. I just know I miss her so so so much. She has been with me for four years. She has been a constant for four years. She was the beginning of Sidnei and I. She was my constant companion. She was there when Sidnei couldn't be. She was here at the beginning of our journey to Brazil. She was there through all the tears. And now she's not and it's my fault. She was my responsibility. I was supposed to take care of her, keep her safe. I was supposed to know she was so sick. I know there are many people who will feel my pain and many who will not understand it. She was more than my dog. She was part of my family. She was part of my heart.

I don't really know what else to say except that I really hate using the past tense.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I have a thing for cows. I didn't realize this until I got to Brazil. I think that is because here they tend to be in lots of random places. For instance, in the middle of our city, next to a busy road, where I wait for the bus, were these guys:

Have you ever seen a calico cow? (do you consider that calico? I couldn't think of another word to call the coloring) But I thought he was pretty!

I love the babies even more. They haven't quite grown into their floppy ears. I love the ears!

As a side note, people watching me take pictures of the cows, probably think I'm insane. And I felt a little silly taking them and then taking my place at the bus stop with everyone staring...but they were too cute!

Monday, August 8, 2011

A good day for soccer

Last weekend, we went to Ipatingão (the soccer stadium here), which has since been renamed apparently...but I forgot the name. Anyway, we went to go watch the Ipatinga Serie B championships. It was two different games and it made for a long afternoon/ evening. But the weather was perfect, the sky beautiful, and the games were pretty exciting!

Flags: On the far left is Ipatinga, the middle is Brazil, and the right is Minas Gerais.
I took particular notice because they replaced the flags with new ones. I was grateful because the old ones were pretty bad looking. I have a thing about flags and respect and etc.
Here is another one here stands for the national anthem. I always make Sidnei stand with me out of respect. I also would like to learn the's a really long song! Maybe I'll make it one of my 2012 resolutions..

The mascot is a know, like our birds .

Fun day! We hadn't been to the stadium for a game in a while, so it was nice to do something different! We are hoping one of these days we are going to win a motorcycle (of course, to sell). They gave away 5 motorcycles during the half times. We didn't have the lucky ticket...but one day we will!

Monday, August 1, 2011

First Wave

This last semester, I really loved teaching. I started teaching kids from age 7-9. Their group is called First Wave! It was really SO MUCH FUN. Here are some things we did this semester.

Here is one group, showing off their actors they made for the story, "The Emperor's New Clothes"

This group is my youngest...they are a lot of fun...but challenging at the same time!
These three girls have been at the school together since they were 3. We had good times, we had bad times. Sweet faces right? Let's just say.... we all survived this semester!
Don't tell anyone, but this is by far my FAVORITE group. They were so much fun! And I get to be their teacher again this semester! Here they are dancing to the music we have to sing every.single.class. Every once in a while I let them go crazy with the was one of those days.
At the end of the semester, we combined two groups for a movie day. So after filling them with soda and popcorn, right before lunch, we also gave them a big fat cupcake. They loved it. And well frankly, so did I!

Monday starts another semester and while I'm sad vacation is over, I'm excited to start classes with the kiddos!! Some classes I have the same (same kids, next level), others are new! I am slowly but surely pushing out adults and getting more kid's classes. The school really isn't thrilled since "I have such a high level of English, they would rather put me in higher levels", but I really love it. And I want what I want! Not only that, but I have heard horror stories about teaching the teenagers...and I'm just not quite ready for that. The kids don't really understand that I don't understand all their portuguese (especially because zomygoodness, they talk REALLY fast), so they don't use it to their advantage. Teenagers however, in my opinion would have a field day. We had a spanish teacher one year when I was a sophomore in high school and english was her third language...and not her best. We were NOT nice. Regrettably.

Anyway, good times were had! More good times coming up this semester! Wish me luck for my first day of school!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Newest Residents

So last weekend, Sidnei received a phone call at the awful hour of 9 AM. (Don't judge, it was the weekend, we are waking up every weekday at 5:30, k?) Generally my husband is one who loves to wallow in the bed until about 11 or so (stop judging)...but after this phone call, he jumps up, yells at me to "put some clothes on and get in the car". Curious enough to do this, but too sleepy to ask why, I did.

We get to the downtown of Ipatinga and we are looking for someone...who, I might ask? "A friend." Helpful.

We finally find this friend. He has a bag. With a box in it. When I open the bag, I discover the box also has holes, which I find alarming. So of course my immediate question is, "is there something alive in here"??? I guess I should have been asking, "was" ....Thankfully, despite our smart friend, no harm done. Everyone made it out alive.

Let me introduce you:

Here in Minas, we call them Chapinha. They are also known as Canário da terra . (At the top left of that page, you can switch it to English)
I'm not really a bird fan. I like to look at their natural habitat. They are beautiful. But in all honesty, I don't love them in cages. I feel really bad for them. At first they were really nervous. They seem to have adjusted. I have not...I don't know why birds make me nervous but they do. But when I call them now, they chirp at me, which I think is cute. And Sidnei loves his birds. He goes to them before he leaves for work and it's the first thing he comes to see when he gets home (because Im not home of course ;)). I've known for a while that he's been wanting birds, he's always liked them. I just didn't want to have to clean up after anything else. Of course he swears that will be his job. But ha. Just ha.

I want to name them. I can't think of any good names Any suggestions?

Friday, July 29, 2011

It's a LONG one.

So it's been a the better part of a year.


Let's start slowly okay? There's so much I need to tell you!

1. I started teaching kids at school and I LOVE IT. But it has kept me super, super busy (hence the lack of posting). I will do an entire separate post on that.

2. Sidnei started working with a company called Delta! It is a construction company that works all over Minas Gerais. Right now they are working here in Ipatinga at the steel company, Usiminas. His construction company did really well in the beginning, but towards the end of last year, things had started to slow down. Work wasn't coming in as quickly as before, creating a shortage of cash flow. So we started job searching (for him).
It took a while, but thank goodness we waited! It was really an answer to our prayers! He is a supervisor, which means no more heavy physical labor for him. That took some getting used to for him since now he stands around watching everyone else do it, but he seems to be adjusting just fine! Also he works from 7-5. Another blessing since the other jobs we were looking at had around the clock shifts. Meaning one shift from 7am-3pm, another from 3pm-11pm, and the over night shift from 11pm-7am.
He has already started receiving great feedback from his managers. Last Friday, they pulled him aside and congratulated him on what a great job he is doing. The safety employees from Usiminas told his bosses at Delta, that in his areas (he has more than one) they are the most well kept and without safety violations. He was so proud of himself, it was so cute! And I was proud of him too! Of course, he humbly told his bosses, that it was the men who worked for him (which he absolutely means, but you could totally see the pride beaming out of him).

3. Why in the world haven't I come home yet??
Can I just say, what a nightmare the process for receiving my permanent residency has been? *sigh* The first thing is that, when you come here, all American documents have to first be sent to the Brazilian consulate, so they can put a (very expensive) sticker on it, saying that it is, in fact, a legal document.
To apply for residency one must have an FBI record stating that you are not a criminal. I forgot to get it stickered. It only lasts for 90 days and therefore expired. The process to ask for an FBI record is fairly simple. You need to get fingerprinted and send it in. However, the police here did NOT want to fingerprint me. The FBI form for some reason scared them, no matter how much I tried to reassure. So Sidnei and I did it at home. Let me tell you, it is REALLY hard to fingerprint someone. Who knew? The prints got rejected twice and finally accepted a third time. (all those tries took almost a year! The FBI waits at least 12 weeks before they give you a response, not to mention, postal time...the mail here is S L O W)

So that was the first thing. After finally getting the FBI thing straight, I went to the Federal Police (they are the ones you register with). Everything went really great! I got my temporary documents and I was waiting for them to come visit my home. You have to have a home interview to prove that you are living together and are in a real relationship (since my request for permanent residency is based on Sidnei). While waiting, I received a letter stating my documents had a name discrepancy. So the very long short version is...the marriage certificate here in Brazil is used as a type of identification for lots of different, banks, opening accounts, etc. When you receive a marriage certificate here, it comes with your married name. In South Carolina, my marriage certificate had my maiden name, and then I used the certificate to change my name. Which means, now, all my documents except my marriage certificate had my married name.

I tried explaining why. They didn't care. They told me to call the US and have them change my marriage certificate (I laughed). Then they told me to have the catorio (the place where you get married, register children, register marriage, etc) change it, except they don't really have the authority to change documents. So you can see what a trial this has been. I have been running around for the better part of a month (I had a 30 day deadline to resolve this) explaining this situation to sooooo many people (the catorio, the Brazilian consulate in the US, the American consulate in Brazil, the Federal Police, anybody who will listen, etc etc). When I told the Federal Police that I was a foreigner and my documents were different, they told me that it didn't matter, I was asking for Brazilian documents and it needed to be what they wanted. I was miffed. There was wailing and gnashing of teeth (poor Sidnei). In the end, the catorio finally helped me (after long hours spent in their office...and after much wailing and gnashing of teeth). They sent a letter to the judge asking permission to change my Brazilian marriage certificate (just the translated version) based on a bunch of other documents proving I am who I say I am. They then gave me a declaration telling the Federal Police what they were doing (since my deadline was 2 days away and the response from the judge would take a couple of weeks).

Well so I went to the Federal Police on Wednesday. The girl that I normally work with (whom I am so very fond of...) was sick or on vacation or just didn't want to talk to me, who knows. So I was dealing with a different guy. So I once again explained my long, drawn out explanation. And do you know what? He said, "no problem". Let's take a copy of your original, of your old and new social security cards (thank goodness I had them), and that should be enough for Brasilia (the nation's capital). After picking my jaw up off the floor, I asked if my process would continue without a problem. He said yes! The only thing is the Federal Police would need to come back to my house to do my interview again (they came last Thursday)since I wasn't home. I needed to be there (they spoke with my sister in law and Sidnei). For real? All that drama? For nothing. The biggest problem here is that depending on who you speak to, is how your process goes. It's really very frustrating. But thankfully now, things are moving forward! Let's hope they come to visit me sooner rather than later. The first visit took a little over two I hope they come back soon!

So basically I was on vacation this week, but really I wasn't since I spent all week in government offices trying to get this taken care of. I'm sad my week is gone, but glad things are going to be okay. I start school again on Monday. I had a LONG meeting yesterday for school and got my slam packed schedule! So I will be spending the weekend planning classes!

Oh, and I am trying to come home in February. I am planning to go back to the Federal Police to ask for special permission to travel, depending on where my documents are. Let's hope they are sympathetic! Pray for open hearts, this girl misses you all so much!

I promise I have lots of posts coming up for you! Sorry I disappeared! Anyone still out there??